Cyber wrap
10 Dec 2014|

Privacy?It’s been a busy week in cyber for ASPI with two publications calling for enhanced cyber cooperation under the auspices of the US–Australia alliance.

In the first, Preserving the Knowledge Edge, Stephan Frühling, James Goldrick and Rory Medcalf argue for a strengthening of the C4ISR relationship:

US–Australian C4ISR cooperation will be essential to the success of the US rebalance, but also to Australia’s own immediate security in a strategic environment in which more and more countries operate high-technology platforms that once used to be the preserve of Australia and its allies.

The priority is to make force structure adjustments that support a greater Australian contribution—with cyber capabilities a clear option.

Building on this idea, in his own contribution to a new ASPI Strategy paper Expanding Alliance, Daniel Nichola writes that it ‘makes sense for Australia to pursue new areas of cooperation with its US ally—and to strengthen existing areas of alliance cooperation—to support the regional position of the US’. Coordinated investment, expanded information sharing and consistent messaging in the cyber domain will help to meet emerging security challenges facing both the US and Australia.

On the softer side of international cooperation, representatives from the US and EU met in Brussels last week for their inaugural cyber dialogue. The participants discussed international security and the prospects for conflict in cyberspace while affirming the application o­f international law to cyberspace. Other issues included capacity building, protection of human rights, working groups on cybercrime and cybersecurity, and internet governance developments. One commentator, speaking at the EastWest Institute’s cyber summit in Berlin, suggested that ‘despite recent transatlantic tensions there are numerous possibilities for greater cooperation, and notions of cyber crime, cyber war and cyber espionage well defined’.

Turning now to another area of cooperation, the US and China held the seventh Internet Industry Forum in Washington DC. Co-hosted by Microsoft and the Internet Society of China, the forum saw Lu Wei, China’s internet czar, call for ‘win-win cooperation’ and ‘respect of each other’s cybersovereignty, internet governance, major concerns and cultural differences’. For more on China’s concept of cyber sovereignty, see this article on China–US Focus. In a separate speech at George Washington University, Lu described the differences between the US and China as accounting for only 10% of the picture, but said they reflect a more significant lack of trust that could be improved through more contact. ‘I often say we can have disagreements, but we should always have communications’ said Lu.

Also on Microsoft, the software multinational is looking more closely at nation-state activities in cyberspace with a recent report that aims to prevent the emergence of a world where cyber conflict undermines trust. The authors outline six norms that could define state behaviour and reduce the possibility that ICT products and services are used, abused, or exploited by nation states as part of military operations. Paul Nicholas, senior director at Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing, argues that ‘there are certain acts in cyberspace that, whatever the national or strategic aim, nation states should not pursue’.

Meanwhile, Fairfax foreign news editor Chris Zappone explores the ‘anything goes’ nature of cyber competition in relations between Taiwan and the PRC. He leaves readers with a perennial question, ‘whether the cyber realm is a place where countries can come to agreement, or inevitably a scene of competition and a technological arms race built on faster computers and more devious coding’.

Finally, for all those interested in—and frustrated by—pop-up and pop-under advertisements, its inventor, Ethan Zuckerman, tells the story of its development on ReplyAll, a podcast series about the internet. And while he apologises for turning the internet into an ad-supported model, it’s a little too late to chart another course; the price for freedom online is now the tacit permission from users that companies can collect personal data and pay-per-click ads.

Simon Hansen is a research intern in ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre. Image courtesy of Flickr user KylaBorg.